General Water Quality Frequently Asked Questions

I’m having a problem with my water, what should I do?

If you are experiencing a water quality issue such as taste and odor, color, or particles in your water, check out our Water Quality Troubleshooting Guide. If you would like to speak with someone regarding water quality issues or need other assistance regarding your water service, please call 402-441-7571 option 2. Related: Water Quality Troubleshooting Guide

For billing or account concerns call 402-441-7571 option 1. Related: LWS Customer Service and Billing FAQ

What is hard water?

Hard water is water containing mineral ions (mostly calcium and magnesium) in high enough amounts to become noticeable. These minerals are noticeable as a white film when water evaporates on a surface like your kitchen sink or when they mix with soap and form a ring of soap scum around your bathtub. Hardness minerals are found naturally in Lincoln’s source water. As groundwater moves through soil and rock, it dissolves small amounts of minerals. All the water served in the city has nearly the same level of hardness. Hardness minerals are not a health concern and can be considered beneficial since our bodies use these essential nutrients to function. For hardness test results, please see Lincoln’s Annual Drinking Water Quality Report.

Related: Annual Drinking Water Quality Report

Should I use a water softener?

The decision to use a water softener is a matter of personal preference. Hardness minerals are not a health concern and can be considered beneficial since our bodies use these essential nutrients to function. These minerals can be a nuisance when they cause build-up in plumbing and on fixtures and appliances. A water softener can help reduce mineral build-up and lessen the amount of soap needed to clean and bathe. Hard water treated with an ion exchange softener has sodium or potassium added. As a result of the sodium or potassium content of the softened water, some individuals may be advised by their physician not to drink softened water. Water softeners need to be properly maintained to avoid any unwanted consequences such as pressure loss and poor water quality. For hardness test results, please see Lincoln’s Annual Drinking Water Quality Report.

Related: Annual Drinking Water Quality Report

Should I use a home filtration device?

Some people use a home water treatment device to improve the taste of their tap water. Others treat their water because of health concerns. Because Lincoln’s water meets or exceeds all federal and state drinking water regulations, the water is considered safe to drink as supplied by the water system. If your home has galvanized pipes and you have, or previously had a lead service line or lead pipes elsewhere in your plumbing system, you may want to consider using a filter certified for lead removal. Lead from lead service lines and lead pipes can build up inside the corroded interior of galvanized pipes. If the corrosion scale breaks off, lead can be released intermittently into the water. This is especially a concern during and after plumbing work. Please see our Lead Awareness page for more information on minimizing your exposure.

When considering acquiring a filtration device, identify what substances you are wanting to remove. No treatment device removes every substance. Some devices remove beneficial substances in the water such as chloramine, fluoride, and electrolytes. The website can help you determine which substances home water treatment devices are certified to remove. If you do choose to use a home water treatment device, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s maintenance instructions since improperly maintained devices can actually cause water quality problems.

Related: Lead in Plumbing or Service Lines

Should I be worried about lead in my water?

The water leaving the treatment plant and traveling through water mains does not contain a detectable amount of lead. Lincoln’s water chemistry provides some protection from lead corrosion from plumbing systems. Nevertheless, it is possible for lead to get into the water under certain conditions, especially when the water sits in lead-containing home or building plumbing or a disturbance causes lead-containing pipe scale from household galvanized pipes to be released. Lead can have negative health effects even at very low concentrations. The older your plumbing is, the more likely it is to contain lead. Drinking water plumbing materials manufactured in 2014 or after are considered lead-free by today’s standards.

Related: Lead in Plumbing or Service Lines

Why is there chlorine in the water?

Chlorine is added to the water to destroy bacteria and viruses in a process called disinfection. Disinfection of water played a critical role in reducing the number of deaths caused by waterborne diseases in the United States in the 20th century. It is easy to forget that before disinfection of water and other improvements to how public water supplies are managed, becoming ill or dying from drinking contaminated water was much more common. In fact, it was a deadly outbreak of typhoid fever from a contaminated well in Lincoln that prompted the installation of the city’s first chlorination system in 1912. The contaminated well was quickly abandoned and the introduction of chlorine for disinfection was a significant step forward in protecting the public’s health in Lincoln and is still in use today.

After the city built a water treatment plant near its new wellfield along the Platte River in 1935, both chlorine and chloramine were used to disinfect the water. These disinfectants are still used today. As one of the first steps of treatment, chlorine is added to disinfect the water. This step has an added benefit - the chlorine oxidizes naturally dissolved iron and manganese so that they can be filtered out and prevent staining. Towards the end of the treatment process, ammonia is added to form chloramine. Chloramine persists longer than chlorine in the water making long-lasting disinfection possible as the water travels to and through Lincoln.

For the average consumer, chloramine causes no adverse health effects. Customers requiring chloramine removal from their water, such as home dialysis users, should consult with their physician. Consult a pet-care professional for information about removing chloramine for aquatic pets.

Related: Water Treatment

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